Arguably, the central theme of Christopher Nolan’s 2011 film Inception is philosophical in its essence: it is nothing less than an investigation into what constitutes human reality. In other words, what are the boundaries of human reality, where does our understanding and our apparent consciousness of the world around us begin and end? These themes become apparent in the film with the focus of its screenplay on the notion of the dream. Nolan basically analyzes how dreams affect reality, and vice versa, and this therefore breaks down the wall between the two, and gives us a new conception of our human existence.
A wealthy newspaper publisher who is a controlling manipulator, Charles Foster Kane, also known as ‘Citizen Kane’ lives in luxury, but is only interested in two major things in life: his career and his women. The events that unfold show that one of the two ultimately breaks him, as detailed herein.
“Dogtown and Z-Boys” was a documentary about “the birth of now” that occurred in the skateboard scene in Los Angeles during the 1970s. The production of the movie was comprised of piecing together archival footage used by the Z-Boys and the Z-Boys photography team. In 2001, Stacy Peralta, the director of “Dogtown and Z-Boys” won the Sundance Film Festival Award for Directing Award Documentary (History of Sundance, 2008).
“The birth of now” referred to the reinvention of skateboarding as no longer a hobby done by rifraf throughout California, but a professional sport. This trend began in California and started with skateboard teams like the Zephyr Boys. The documentary eloquently captures the growth of skateboarding as a sport, while capturing the breakdown of the Z-Boys as they rise to fame.
Within a story whether on the big screen, small screen, or within a book, there is set of ideals, philosophies, and issues that can be pinpointed to the significance within American society. In controversial stories such as Gone with the Wind that explored the issues of racism and slavery, Cider House Rules on abortion, The Passion of the Christ, which centers on religion, and Supersize Me shed light on the obesity epidemic in the United States. While few examples are listed, there are thousands of more movies that have been made with the ideological focus on social, political, environmental, or culture issues that have drawn millions to theaters. One in particular movie is the Brazilian crime drama, “City of God”. City of God represents the ideological debate within American’s social and cultural issues of its representation of violence influence by the social issues of poverty and race, violence of women, and the lack of response from police within the city. This movie captures violence represented extensively, violence towards women, and the unresponsiveness with police authority within Brazil. Provided in this essay is a summary of the movie, along with a thorough analysis that provides the ideological debate of the issues provided.
Film adaptations may attract criticism especially when they involve a popular work with loyal reader base. It is not always possible to have a faithful adaptation which may upset either the fans of the novel or the novel’s author itself. Adaptations and subsequent creative licenses taken by the director create problems because “although some novels take very well to the screen, others depend for their power and development on their lengthiness, and they seem thin or abrupt on the screen” (Baker 191).
Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List (1993) is a docudrama about the Holocaust which took place during the Second World war. because the genre of the movie is docudrama, the film combines elements of history with elements of narrative fiction. This means that while certain events and people depicted in the film are based on historical fact, the film as a whole is also created out of an artistic sense of narrative. This is one of the main ways that the docudrama genre is different than a straight documentary. Also, due to the fact that the film is based in fact, but intended to be a work of narrative art, the techniques of the films such as mise-en-scéne, cinematography, editing, sound and performances are used primarily as expresive devices, rather than primarily as techniques for conveying historical relaism. That said, the use of realism is part of the film, but as the following examination will show, the realism of teh film is another means by which expressive emotion is conveyed.
The movie is based very deeply on its use of mise-en-scéne. It is probably the case for most viewers that if they like the mise-en-scéne of the film, then they will probably feel the film is a very strong work of artistic expression and emotional storytelling. If, on the other hand, the visual narration of the film is off-putting to an individual viewer, then that viewer will likely feel that the film has failed both in terms of artistry and message. that is how significant the use of mise-en-scéne is in the movie. The most immediate consideration in this regard is the fact that Spiel berg chose to shoot most of the film in black and white to give the overall feeling of a documentary. Furthermore, the sue of the visual textures of the film was used in a very linear way to elicit emotion from the audience and to give film a dimension of stark realism.
For example, during some of the death-camp scenes, smoke can be viewed rising in the bcakground in an eerie black and white shodwoing that elicits chills. This is the way that Speilberg uses a visual language throughout the film that is partly based on the use of symbols such aasthe sue of smoke to suggest the rising souls of the massacred Jews. Another aspect of his visual language is simply tone and texture. This is evident in the famous scene where Spielberg adds color only to the coat of a single figure in the pictire: that of a small child being led to the death camps. Spielberg uses this vibrant visual image to show the simultaneous feeling of danger and death. It is also used to show the vibrant life that si being taken coldly by the Nazi persecutaors. The dramatic use of color is a flagrant break with the overall documentary tone of the filma and this break is mean to convey the intrusion of emotion and humanity on the naked facts of the tragedy.
That said, it si entirely possible that some viewers might find the use of black and white imagery too obvious adn tehrefore dull. In the same manner, some vieweres might find Spielberg’s dramataic use of color is select scenes equally obvious and, in fact, if they do not like the approach, they might find it silly. The worst case scenario is that a viewer might find Spielberg’s stylized approach to mise-en-scéne to be pandering or even close to cute. Speilberg also uses other obvious visual cues and symbols, such as out-of-focus backgrounds, hand-held camera footage, and fast-cuts to show the combination of disorientation and frantic chaos that was part of the Holocaust. Again, while this kind of mise-en-scéne is meant to transform the images on the film to direct emotional meaning, many viewers may find it off-putting.
Obviously, the use of visual cues and symbolic imagery is closely tied to the film’s cinematography. As previously mentioned, the cinematography begins with kind of shots and style that would typically be associated with a documentary. The film then incorporates variations of this kind of cinematography for dramatic impact. The overall impact is one that is part “newsreel” and part intimate portrait. The one problem that seems to persist for the cinematography of the film is its potentially accidental beauty. that is to say some shots are so visually appealing and harmonious that they are in danger of appearing ironic given the film’s subject matter. The cinematography of the film is very closely aligned to the visual symbology previously mentioned. Both of these aspects of the film are deeply connected to a third aspect of the film: editing.
The editing of the film is very interesting and is important in the way that the story is told. Spielberg uses a technique that is called parallel editing in the film. This means that dual or multiple scenes are threaded together in a kind of montage. the way in which the scenes contrast or resonate with one another adds an extra dimension and layer of meaning to the story. In a basic way, Spielberg uses parallel editing to show dramatic contrast between the happy lives of the Germans and the destroyed lives of the Jews. One solid example of this is the way the Spielberg connects the scenes of Schindler’s birthday with the scenes of a Jewish wedding in a labor camp. The use of this kind of editing throughout the film is not only an appropriate approach to the story, but one which enables the two sides of the Holocaust to be compared side-by-side. Just as Spielberg’s use of black and white and color may have seemed too obvious for some viewers, the use of parallel editing may seem obvious.
The use of sound and music was also very important in the film. However, in this regard it might correctly be suggested that the sound and the music of the film simply made it more possible for dramatic silences to work in the film. In my personal opinion the sound and music of the film was one of its weakest aspects. I felt that John Williams’ score was uninspired and while the feelings that the music was meant to bring out in the audience was tightly coordinated to the scenes of the film, the music just simply failed to stand out for me. All in all I found the imagery of the film to be executed at a more meaningful level than the films sound.
In final analysis I would give the film a rating of two and one-half stars. I think that the subject matter of the film is very difficult and I question whether or not Spielberg’s decision to use a ‘faux-documentary” approach was the best way to tackle the theme. That said, I did find the film to be an enjoyable experience to a limited extent. the weighty subject-matter just seemed to be so over-matched to the techniques used in the film. Obviously my reaction to the film in some ways is an outcome of my own personal biases and preferences. For one thing, I’m not generally a Spielberg fan.
This means that any film he directs has an extra hurdle to cross for me. Another bias I might have is that, while I’m familiar with World War Two history, the history of the Holocaust has always been something I’v avoided studying. I’m not disposed to watching such sad and tragic topics. Taking the class has convinced me that films are much more than entertainment: they are art and expression. However, I also like th experience of being taken away from the world of tragedy a problems that we face each day in our lives and movies are often a good method for achieving this. In the case of Schindler’s List the approach used by Spielberg is one that is supposed to be disturbing and haunting as is evident in is use of editing, cinematography, visual symbols, and narrative in the film.
Even though I prefer certain movie genres such as comedy, science fiction, historical drama, and foreign films, the film I may select to watch depends upon the circumstances and mood. When I watch with friends, we decide through consensus but when I watch alone, I mostly choose one from one of the genres I enjoy. Sometimes, I also choose films about which I may have heard lot of praise from friends or which have been given high ratings by the professional critics. I usually trust crowd opinion which is why I also check websites such as Rotten Tomatoes.
There are several qualities that make a film enjoyable. First of all, the film story is original or tackles original issues. This keeps the audience engaged with the film because it is difficult to predict the evolution of the story. The film is also enjoyable when an ordinary person can relate to the story in some ways even if the genre is science fiction. When a viewer can connect with the film, the film’s message has more powerful impact on him and may even inspire him/her to take the action desired by the film director. One example may be documentaries that try to emotionally connect with viewers and appeal to viewers’ sense of fairness and justice. A film is also enjoyable when it experiments with new ideas or film-making techniques. Last but not least, acting always makes a huge difference.
There is a very clear difference between an “artsy” film and a Hollywood blockbuster; the amount of commerce they bring in boils down to the elementary idea of the individual versus the group. Arthur Knight is quoted in the text by saying, “Art is not manufactured by committees. Art comes from an individual who has something that he must express…” In the lecture Professor Hartmann made mention of films considered to be true art are limited release.
Prof. Hartmann argues in her lecture that documentaries serve different purposes. The purpose of the film may be to take a stand on a particular issue, to advocate a solution, or to simply bring awareness to the subject being explored. With all of these, the director “organizes visual images and sound to convey some truth of that real world situation” (Baker 131). Prof. Hartmann claims a documentary is never truly unbiased because “even in telling, there’s some bias.” Truth is subjective and the documentaries that address a controversial topic often reveal that one person’s truth may be a tall tale to another person. Prof. Hartmann cites Fahrenheit 9/11 as a good example of a subjective perspective documentary. The film also demonstrates how even the idea of truth can vary. Michael Moore was convinced he was only portraying the truth regarding Bush administration’s handling of 9/11 tragedy. Political issues are usually polarizing and viewers usually choose their sides. While liberals agreed with Moore’s view that Bush did a poor job of handling the tragedy, conservatives felt Moore’s “truth” was biased.
As I thought about “auteur”, Christopher Nolan was the first name to come to mind but since he had already been discussed in the course lectures, I had to come up with a different movie director. I went through my movie collection for ideas and it was soon apparent that another film director that fits the definition of auteur is Michael Bay. Michael Bay has an impressive resume of action movies including the Transformers, Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, and Pain & Gain, the last of which is on my wish-list.